In February 2023, BISR Language Learning and Critique launched with a year-long intensive course in Critical Ancient Greek. In September, the program grew to include a course in Critical Sanskrit. And, coming this February, we are expanding the language institute with three additional intensive courses: Critical Latin, Critical Ancient Hebrew, and Critical Classical Arabic (the latter being offered both in-person and online).
It’s the “Critical” that distinguishes the BISR model from other language study programs. One aspect of the program that embodies this spirit of criticality is the comparative, interdisciplinary, multilingual lecture series—which we’re delighted now to open up for the entire BISR community in 2024.
The lecture series invites scholars at the cutting edge of classics whose work reframes our understanding of the ancient world—and its relevance for the modern. In 2023, we explored various historical scenes of reception—including Karl Marx’s early work on the Atomists with Peter Fenves; Hannah Arendt’s appropriation of Greek in her political philosophy with Samantha Hill; and the queer reception of Achilles and Patroclus with Bruce King. We projected backward to examine racecraft in the Odyssey with Jackie Murray and Euripides’ Bacchae as proto-horror with Lynn Kozak. We took comparative looks at ancient fables with Gregory Nagy and at women in Greek and Indic epics with Olga Levaniouk. And we began to think critically, with Leonard Muellner, about what it means to theorize a proto-Indo-European language—for linguistics as well as for political and cultural projects.
In 2024, we are looking forward to a slate of lectures that take up the workings of power, race, class, gender, sexuality, labor, migration, translation, and cultural exchange in the ancient world, with talks on Parmenides and Indic monism, Prometheus and the Vedic priesthood, Heidegger and Plato, ancient poetics and modern translation, colonial and postcolonial receptions, and new approaches for decolonizing “the classics,” to name just a few.
All lectures are free and open to the BISR community. Please keep an eye on the newsletter and the language course page for news of upcoming lectures and to register. And check out some of last year’s lectures via the links above!